Farmington Public Schools bids farewell to longtime staffer

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published September 21, 2022

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FARMINGTON — Farmington Public Schools is undergoing a major change in its administration. Longtime administrator Kathy Smith, the assistant superintendent of talent development, retired Sept. 9 after 33 1/2 years with the district.

Smith, who devoted her entire professional career to the Farmington Public School District, was treated to a standing ovation at the Sept. 6 school board meeting. The board and the audience erupted with applause and rose to their feet after her retirement was announced by Superintendent Chris Delgado.

Smith worked her way up the ladder of the district and held several titles during her lengthy career. She started her career as a teacher, worked her way up to principal and all the way up to assistant superintendent of talent and development, which oversees the district’s human resources department.

“One thing we are not excited about is the retirement of our own Kathy Smith, assistant superintendent of talent and development. While we’re not excited, it’s bittersweet, but we are all very happy for her,” said Delgado.  “It has been just my honor to work with Kathy this last year. The work that she has done with our cabinet, with our leadership team for the district with the development of talent and development committees, as well as the onboarding process, she has been just remarkable in the work that she has done and the dedication to this community and staying here this long, because of how much she cares about our community. ”

Delgado said Smith is a “consummate professional.” He said that was evident when she waited until September to retire in order to get the district through the summer and help get the new year running smoothly. He said that by staying through the summer, she was able to help them get through the interview and hiring processes and all the other things that are necessary to start a new school year before “riding off into the sunset.”

Smith told the board she was hoping to leave quietly, but she should have known that would not happen. She gave an emotional, impromptu farewell speech during the board meeting.

“I am beyond honored to have been working for Farmington and supporting our students and families and staff all these years. I thank (everyone) and appreciate every moment I’ve had, every interaction I’ve had, every conversation that I’ve been lucky enough to have, even every problem I’ve needed to solve all these years,” Smith said. “And so, with Farmington, there’s always ups and downs, but it is a phenomenal and amazing school district, and I know because you know the joke’s always been if you work somewhere like a restaurant and you go back to eat there, it is because you know how amazing it is from within. This district is amazing from within. … We have just phenomenal people and staff and parents that are dedicated and love this district and do everything they can for our students. I’m just proud to have been part of that all these years.”

Board member Angie Smith said that Smith has been “phenomenal.” She said that it will be hard to replace her or any member of the district’s central cabinet, for they are like a family.

“We are really going to miss you around here. It’s going to be hard to replace you. … Now you’re leaving when we’re doing some really great things and with a great cabinet,” said Angie Smith. “As (Delgado) said, you’re riding off into the sunset; hopefully, it’s on a Harley. Have fun, enjoy, stay in touch and know that you are loved and will be missed and you are one of Farmington’s finest.”

“Her shoes are going to be hard to fill,” said Delgado as he thanked her for her service to the district.

After an extensive search, the district announced Sept. 9 that it had hired Brad Paddock to replace Smith.  Paddock started with the district Sept. 19. He was formerly the executive manager of human resources for Walled Lake Consolidated Schools, a position he held since 2018 after serving as the district’s interim human resources manager. Prior to that, he served as the principal of Sarah Banks Middle School from 2010 to 2018 and assistant principal in the district since 2003.

“I am excited to join the Farmington Public Schools’ team and humbled by the opportunity this position represents,” Paddock said in a press release. “I look forward to working closely with all stakeholder groups to continue the district’s tradition of excellence.”

Paddock has a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in technology education from Eastern Michigan University and a Master of Education degree in education leadership from Wayne State University. He also earned his K-12 Administrator Human Resources Specialist Certificate from Michigan State University.

“Brad is an experienced, highly effective educator who is personable, collaborative and hard-working,” stated Delgado in a press release. “We are very excited to have him join our team.”